Washington Examiner: I don't know if you've heard, but the first 100 days are coming up. Big milestone, you might not have heard.
President Trump: I heard that, I heard that. Yeah, no that's good. I mean, I guess it's an indication of certain things. But, I think we've created some amazing, we've done some amazing things, and I think we've set some incredible foundations going onward, with relationships, with other countries, et cetera, et cetera.
WEX: So obviously, a lot has changed in this country and around the world since you took office. Have you changed your thinking on any particular issue, maybe like DACA, based on what you've learned on the job?
POTUS: Well I always understood that with DACA, we need special heart. We need to understand the — we have to understand the other side of that equation, and I do understand that side, and I am somebody with a lot of heart and you know, you've heard what I said. Just, relax and let's let it all play out. Because I think everyone's going to be happy in the end. I will say that we're doing an amazing job at the border, and we're going to need the help of the wall, because we want to stop human trafficking, we want to stop drugs, we want to stop so many other things that the wall could be so helpful with. So, you know, the Democrats, many of them, and most of them, including President Obama, including Schumer, including a lot of people, you know, they approved the 2006 version of the wall, and they understand it's a good thing, but they feel that politically, they want to fight. And that's OK, I think we're gonna — we will build the wall. The wall will be built. It has to be built if we're going to continue this incredible job we're doing on national security and at the border. But, a lot of good things are happening. Really good things. We're very proud of the job we've done.
WEX: So early in your presidency we heard a lot about these anti-Trump, Obama holdovers that the administration blamed in part for obstructing the agenda. Do you still have concerns that there are those officials in the government?
POTUS: Sure, we have some. Many have — many are now gone. And, you know, there are some cases where like people are saying, we're being obstructed by the Democrats, very much so. And also, we don't need so many people coming to work. You know, one of the things — I don't know if you say this, Sean — but when they say about putting people in, there are so many jobs in Washington, we don't want so many jobs. You don't need all of those people. And even me, I look at staffing, and I look at the numbers of people, and many of the people that they complain don't have, you know, where certain positions aren't filled, in many cases, you don't need those positions to be filled.
You know, a good example is Rex over at State — got so many people, and he likes to do things himself, and he likes to take meetings himself, he doesn't necessarily need the kind of numbers that you're talking about. And it's also because of the total obstruction of having people going in. It's very, very sad to see. You'd think the Democrats would help because they want to see this, you know, move along nicely, but you've seen how long it took to get your various Cabinet positions filled. It's a record, it was a record. So they have one power, and that's the power to obstruct, and they're using it to the maximum, whether it's a Supreme Court judge or whether it's Cabinet members or whether it's people to fill seats but we don't want to — or fill vacancies. But we don't want to fill all of the vacancies, we won't fill all of the vacancies. We don't need so many of these people.
WEX: But you've lifted the federal hiring freeze. Do you plan on re-implementing that at any point in the future?
POTUS: Well, at the right time. But we're going to have an economy — you know, the numbers just came out on the GDP for last year which were abysmal. 1.6 percent. Which is the lowest in five years. And, you know, if China does 7 percent, they consider it terrible. You have big countries in this world, major countries in this world, if they do 7, 8 or 9 percent they're not very happy, and here we are, we're a country at one percent and people don't even write about it. I mean, we're going — this country is going — we have such great potential. We have such tremendous potential. But when you look at the GDP numbers, to me, that's a big story, because that means that we're essentially, you know, that's after, that's the lowest in five years. And five years ago was a very bad time, a very bad time. So we're going to have a very big day today, I think you're going to see, you'll be there? 1 o'clock, is it 1 o'clock, Sean?
SPICER: 1:30, sir.
POTUS: At 1:30, with the tax proposal. I think you're going to find it very good.
WEX: So in the first 100 days, federal judges have prevented some of your policies from moving forward. And you're not the only Republican to be critical of the ideological bent of the 9th Circuit. Have you considered the proposals that are out there to break up the 9th Circuit?
POTUS: Absolutely I have. There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It's outrageous. And you know, you talk about judge shopping — you saw today I mentioned that?
WEX: I did see.
POTUS: But you see judge shopping, or what's gone on with these people, they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. It's got close to an 80 percent reversal period, and what's going on in the 9th Circuit is a shame. And hopefully, they will, in the 9th Circuit, do what's right both on the ban and — you know we had the ban?
POTUS: Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that's like, semi-automatic. And it's very, very sad to see it happening. And the language could not be any clearer. I mean, the language on the ban, it reads so easy that a reasonably good student in the first grade will fully understand it. And they don't even mention the words in their rejection on the ban. And the same thing with this. I mean, when you have people that are being enabled to commit crime. And in San Francisco, when you look at Kate Steinle, being shot and here is the court, you know, right in that same general area. But when you look at a Kate Steinle, when you look at so many other things. No, sanctuary cities have been very, very dangerous, very, very bad. And, you know, we've done a great job on law enforcement, we've done a great job at the border. And all of our most talented people say sanctuary cities are a disaster.
WEX: And so —
POTUS: In terms of safety.
WEX: Right. And one thing we've heard a lot about in these first 100 days, it's these dissenting voices that you like to have around you, that you like to be able to get a variety of opinions.
POTUS: I do like that, yes. Well, I mean, it's great when everybody can agree. Then you think something's so good that it can — no, but I like having dissent. If it's a close topic.
WEX: But one close topic — sorry sir — is the Paris Climate Accords. We've been hearing different things from inside your administration. Scott Pruitt wants to pull out, Secretary Tillerson would like to stay in, Secretary Perry would like to renegotiate it. But ultimately yours is the only opinion that matters, so —
POTUS: That's true. Well, I've heard them all. And you're right, you have all three: you have pull out, renegotiate, stay in. But the one thing everybody agrees to is that we are being, as usual, we are paying an inordinate share beyond any bounds of reasonableness, and other countries are not. We got taken to the cleaners financially. So we're going to be making a decision, I would say, over the next two weeks on that. But when we're paying massive amounts of money and other major countries are paying nothing, and when we're agreeing to do certain things and other major countries are not agreeing to do those things, then it becomes unfair, and it becomes bad for our companies and becomes bad for us competitively, and I don't want to see that happen either, You know, I'm a big believer in the environment. And I'm a tremendous believer in clean water, clean air, and I've won environmental awards. But it also has to be fair. It can't put you at an economic disadvantage, or a disadvantage in other ways. So, I'll be making a decision — we're going to have meetings on that, actually, next week — and I'll be making a decision on that very soon. But the one thing all of the groups that you mentioned — and I do, I have all three groups — the one thing all of those groups do agree on is that we are paying disproportionately by a factor that's so high that it's not comprehensible.
WEX: So I have to ask: 96, 97 days into your presidency, the Russia collusion story — it hasn't gone away. Why do you think it's stuck around?
POTUS: The Russia is a faux story. It's made up. It is, you know, nobody asks Hillary Clinton why her husband was over making speeches in Russia. Nobody asks John Podesta about the company that he has with his brother in Russia. Nobody asks John Podesta why he didn't let the FBI look at his server, why did they hire another company to look at the server. And somebody had mentioned — and this may be incorrect — a company that's owned by somebody from the Ukraine. You've heard that, I assume you've heard that? But John Podesta and his brother, why aren't they asking about that? The Russia story is a faux story. And it started, really, before the election was over, before November 8th. And it was at a very low level, and it never picked up any steam until after the election because the Democrats are using that faux — or fake — Russia story in order to make themselves feel better for losing an election that's very hard for a Democrat to lose. Because it's very hard for Democrats to lose in the Electoral College. The Electoral College is a very, very hard thing for the Republicans to win because you have to run all the way up the East Coast.
You have to win Florida, you have to win South Carolina, North Carolina, you have to win Pennsylvania, you have to win all the way up, and then you have to win in the Midwest and you have to win places that — you know you win Michigan, you win Wisconsin, you win Ohio and Iowa. Because they start off with such a tremendous advantage that it's very very hard for a Republican to win. So they lost an election, and they use the Russia story as a way — as best they can — as a way of justifying how they lost the election. It's a fake story. The fake media keeps putting it on. The same media, it's all the same media, that keep putting it on. And frankly, they should be ashamed of themselves.
WEX: Well as the custodian of the information that will exonerate your team in the end, why isn't there an effort to just get that out there and get this over with?
POTUS: Well I think we have. We've given everything we can to the committees and the committees can come in and see whatever they want. And we look forward to the reports. And nobody said I was involved in any form and nobody said we're — in fact, I've actually seen many people, almost everybody, in fact even people that are very anti-Trump, said there is no evidence. And there isn't. And the reason there's no evidence [is] because it's a faux story. It's a fake story that was made up as a justification for how the Democrats, it's really an excuse for how the Democrats lost an election that should have never been lost because they should never lose the Electoral College. That's all that story is. It's a fake story.
WEX: So on healthcare, you have said you want to lower premiums.
WEX: You want to maintain coverage levels.
WEX: You want to increase consumer choice.
WEX: But you want to spend less taxpayer money on healthcare.
WEX: Some of those are a little conflicting.
POTUS: No —
WEX: — and it's difficult to get those all simultaneously. So at the end of the day, what's your biggest priority?
POTUS: OK, well all of those things. I think we're gonna do all of those things. And I think we're very close to getting healthcare. And I never stopped, it wasn't like phase one, phase two. Don't forget, Obamacare took 17 months to get, and it's a disaster. And without subsidy, you know, without my paying the insurance companies a fortune, which frankly has to be approved by Congress — what Obama was doing was illegal, because as you know the court decision said you have to get it approved by Congress. He signed without going to Congress, so without going to Congress, Obamacare is gone. Premiums have gone through the roof, they've skyrocketed. It's a disaster. We started, two months ago, really started — focused — two months ago on healthcare. And I think we're very close. I don't know that we'll do it over the next two days, but I think we're very close.
The Republicans have really come together and the reason that they've come together, and a lot of them for different reasons, because you have a pretty big sphere of Republicans, but they're all good people. Some want to see the lower premiums, some want to see just better healthcare, it's different people feeling different ways. I'm one of the ones that wants to see great healthcare at a much lower price. So we're going to have great competition, which you don't have right now. I mean, you have the insurance companies — I was in Tennessee, the insurance companies pulled out of half the state, the other half they're going to lose very soon. That means they have no insurance companies. Kentucky was a disaster, where the insurance companies are on their last legs in terms of staying. They're going to leave. And so many other places. So you really don't have Obamacare, because you have insurance companies that are all pulling out. So when people talk about Obamacare, it's really fiction.
The other thing is that, when you talk about the billions and billions and dollars that we have to pour into insurance companies in order to keep it alive, well that money has to be approved by Congress. It was never approved. I mean, you could make the case that Obamacare was never approved, because this money was never, it was never approved to be paid. It has to be approved by Congress. You understand what I mean by that?
WEX: I do, and that leads me to my next question: Are you going to withhold those cost-sharing reduction payments or maybe put a bill forward in Congress to legislate that?
POTUS: Well what I want to do is, I want to see what happens with our bill first. Because we're going to have great healthcare at a lower cost. We're going to have premiums coming down, and they'll really start tumbling down in two years, they will start tumbling, because the insurance companies will be so competitive. And you'll have health plans, you'll have healthcare plans, that you've never even — I know a lot about healthcare, you know a lot about healthcare, they'll come up with plans that you've never even heard about that will be so good. They'll have a lot of competition, they'll have a lot of new ideas that people don't even think about today. And it'll be a beautiful thing. So I really have to see what happens over the next couple of days or maybe weeks with respect to our plan before I make that decision.
WEX: This is an obligatory question, but if you had to give yourself a grade on your first 100 days, like in school, what grade do you give yourself?
POTUS: Well you know, I just had the meeting, Antiquities, you saw that?
WEX: I did see it.
POTUS: Freed up 135 million acres.
WEX: Bears Ears, yes sir.
POTUS: Right? The Bears Ears. That's one of the things we did today, it's incredible for a certain part of the country. So I think the thing that's interesting is that, and really important: I've passed a lot of legislative bills that people don't even know about. Whether it's the VA and choice and whether it's a lot of different things, a lot of bills we've passed, including relating to the Internet, so we believe we'll have 32 legislative — this is not executive orders — this is legislative bills passed. And nobody knew that.
I've said to reporters, some of whom are very anti-Trump, or conservative, or however you want to call it, that we've passed 28 and we think we'll have 32 by the time Saturday rolls around. And again, that's a standard that's really an artificial standard, the whole 100 day thing. Because I think what I've done best is set foundations for the future, including with foreign countries, including with China and Japan and many, many countries that we have great relationships with. I think we have some incredible foundations that have been built over the last — Germany — a lot of great foundations — the U.K. But we've passed 28 legislative bills and that'll be 32 by the time Saturday night rolls along. And nobody had any idea. They had no idea. They said I passed — I saw on one of the networks that covers us extremely incorrectly and unfairly, they actually said none. And I'm not even sure they knew. I don't think they knew. I don't think they did it to be vicious, I just don't think they knew. So we've got from 28 to 32 legislative bills that have been signed by me and passed. That probably even surprises you, when you hear that number. Then on top of that we've done the executive orders, we've freed up the economy, the work on regulation is unprecedented, what we've done on regulation. And I will tell you on legislative — which people said, 'oh well he's done nothing legislatively,' they didn't know, because we didn't make a big deal out of it, but we've done a great job. Not since Harry Truman has anybody done so much. That's a long time ago.
WEX: Yes. That's quite a long time ago.
POTUS: And then of course you always have what I think will go down as one of the great choices in history on the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Gorsuch. We didn't just nominate him, we had him approved. And that was — I thought we were in our own category, but that also took place in 1881. 1881, that happened also within the first 100 days. But you know, I mean there's never really been anything like this.
So I think we've done more than perhaps any president in the first 100 days. But I don't want to set the 100 days as a standard — I think even more importantly, I think that we've established foundations for the next, almost eight years.
WEX: So is that an A, then? Or a B?
POTUS: I'd give us an A. I would say communication would be a little bit less than an A because I don't think we've gotten the word out what we've done because I think we're so busy getting it done that we're not talking about it. But I would give the administration, on the big picture, an A. I would say we haven't communicated the word out, so I'd give us a little bit less than that, but one of the reasons we haven't done that is, we're too busy working.
WEX: You hear that, Sean? You got a B.
SPICER: I heard.
POTUS: No, Sean's doing great. Look, Sean is being attacked viciously by people because, you know, that's — if Sean were a liberal Democrat, they'd be saying he's the greatest person ever to live. But Sean's doing a good job, excellent job. And Sean would agree with me. I think a lot of the media doesn't want us to get the word out. So I've seen Sean say things that were so perfectly stated, and then the next day I'll read about it or I'll see it on television, and I'll say, "that's not the same man that said — are they watching — " I actually would tell people: "Are you watching the same conference or the same Sean that I watched?" Because I've seen it perfectly stated, you cannot do it any better, and when it's written or on television, it's totally different. So I think Sean's done a really good job, Really great job.